Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hello from Sangkhla!

Am now in Sangkhlaburi and have had a very difficult few days. They have basically consisted of - lazing round in deck chairs by the fan, under the fairy lights, as french reggae plays in the background
- a barbeque
- drinking beer
- getting invited to dinner by one of the local Mon staff, being fed lots of amzaing food and watching surreal japanese kid's ninja shows dubbed into Thai
- going swimming in the lake.
I can probably handle this lifestyle quite well!

Of course, this will not be usual. It was good timing for me to arrive on Friday night from Bangkok, so to have two days to relax and get to know the other expats here (Christian - field co-ordinator, Violande - doctor (yes, not just me!) & Jean-Baptiste or JB, lab technician). We will be doing a nutritional survey & immunisation campaign next week and I have heard a bit about the dramatic medical problems of some of the people here. Have been studying up on how to define acute vs chronic malnutrition and what to do about it!

Have found out a bit more about the area of Kanchanaburi: the river Kwae (Kwai) with its famous bridge is in Kanchanaburi itself, and we drove past Hellfire pass on the way here. Will try to visit these places properly one weekend.

One thing I have found unusual is the burning off - to promote new grass growth before the rainy season. As we drive around at night, whole hills are alight just next to the town, and echoes of bushfires spring up in my head. My french colleagues do not understand my reaction to this!

So, must go and do some more very little.


Anonymous said...

My Blokes Book Club has just read "One Fourteenth of an Elephant" written by a survivor of the Burma railway in WWII. The author makes references to the sites you mention and speaks highly of the "big Australian" - Weary Dunlop. Now a smaller Australian is following in his footsteps. Hope your first week goes well. Love Dad

SMW said...

Hello Mel
Glad to hear you are working hard right from the start!!! We have bought a Thailand map and located where you are, so that and your descriptions will give us more of a picture of your surroundings. All the best with your further orientation and getting to know your colleagues as you start to work together.
Love Mum and Col

Barb said...

Hey Mel,

Burning off is a wierd concept for us Melbournites ... but it's also done up in the Territory :)

Thinking of you ...

Anonymous said...

Burning off is also common in PNG. The hills around Ukarumpa were often on fire, not just to encourage grass growth, but also to make hunting easier (just light the fire and catch all the animals as they run away!). It was really difficult the first time I left a fire burning in the jungle! CE